11 European fintechs we’re excited about right now

 Frankie Jones photo
Frankie Jones Senior Content Writer
5min read

London’s been at the centre of the fintech bubble for over a decade now, and the rest of Europe isn’t far behind.

One of the few silver linings of the coronavirus pandemic could be that it might act as a catalyst for a tonne of investment into fintech, as more and more people recognise the need to go digital. Despite the trend for falling investments in 2020, the UK fintech sector is still looking flush thanks to investments of over $1.84 billion.

To give you a heads up on the next big companies on the scene, we’ve rounded up the hottest startups on our watch list 🔥

1. Pleo

Founded: 2015

Type: Fintech

HQ: Copenhagen, Denmark

Employees: 230+

Not to be confused with Cleo, Pleo has designed a ‘simple spending solution’ for businesses of all shapes and sizes. In other words, a company credit card to automate your expenses and simplify bookkeeping.

If you’ve ever had to file an expense report, you’ll know how mind-numbing and time-consuming it can be. Which is why employees are bound to love Pleo. And as Richard Branson famously said, “happy employees equal happy clients” (or something to that effect).

Over 10,000 businesses are already singing Pleo’s praises - one kind reviewer claims it’ll “save you time, money and headaches”. What more could you want?

2. Lunar

Founded: 2015

Type: Neobank

HQ: Aarhus, Denmark

Employees: 160+

Make the most of your money. That’s all Lunar wants you to do. Simple enough, right? That’s where most banks go wrong, it seems, by squirrelling your money away and keeping it safe, but not growing it or helping you manage it.

Lunar, on the other hand, is offering you ‘financial zen’. Targeted primarily at the millennial market, the Danish digital bank gives you a free card and account with no hidden fees. You’ll get a clear spending overview, investing options, and the chance to save without noticing thanks to their clever ‘goals’ feature. That sounds pretty great to us.

Plus, their website is one of the prettiest we’ve seen for a long time.

3. Yoyo Wallet

Founded: 2013

Type: Fintech

HQ: London, UK

Employees: 438+

Can’t make it through the working day without a flat white? Does your local bakery have your order waiting before you even open your mouth? Then Yoyo Wallet is for you.

The award-winning app lets you pay instantly at a range of cafes, shops and restaurants, and collect rewards as you go. You’ll earn points and stamps when you spend which you can redeem for freebies or money off your next purchase. If that wasn’t enough, prepare to be tempted by personalised offers, prizes and seasonal discounts.

(If you’re a hospitality business, check out Yoyo’s CRM platform to gain unique customer insights to help you know and grow the people who buy from you most.)

The only thing left to consider is what you’ll spend your hard-earned rewards on.

4. Thought Machine

Founded: 2014

Type: Fintech

HQ: London, UK

Employees: 300+

On a mission to revolutionise the banking sector, Thought Machine is doing away with the legacy systems that so often hold big banks back.

Enter Vault. A ‘cloud native core banking engine’ with a punchy name. Their smart contract offering promises enhanced security, scalability and flexibility. Not to mention lower costs.

They’re clearly making their mark, with clients like Atom Bank, Standard Chartered and Lloyds already under their belt. We’re thrilled to see that it’s not just the traditional players recognising the need for change (and, ultimately, a move to the cloud) but challenger banks, too.

5. Clim8 Invest

Founded: 2019

Type: Investment Tech

HQ: London, UK

Employees: 16+

Clim8 Invest is a small company with a big idea. One of those ideas you wish you’d thought of first and now you’re kicking yourself for missing the boat.

Their mission is simple: to make investing have a positive impact on climate change. Through their platform, you can invest in a range of publicly listed, sustainable companies who are tackling global warming head on.

Their app hasn’t launched yet, but you can join the 10,000 people who’ve already registered for early access here.

Do your bit for the planet while making your friends green with envy as your investments start to pay off (hopefully 🤞). It’s a win-win.

6. Farewill

Founded: 2015

Type: Legal Tech

HQ: London, UK

Employees: 70+

Thanks to their sunny yellow website, you’d never know Farewill was a startup that deals with death.

The people behind this online will-making platform are in fact the UK’s best-rated death experts. They recognised how complex the will process was, so they’ve taken it online.

You can write your will online in 15 minutes and it costs just £90. They also handle probate and cremation queries, and you can have a read of their handy coronavirus guide if you’re confused about how the process has changed since social distancing rules came into force.

Let’s face it: making a will is no one’s idea of a fun Saturday afternoon. But it’s important, so getting it sorted online in the time it takes to eat your porridge seems pretty sensible.

7. Zego

Founded: 2016

Type: Insurtech

HQ: London, UK

Employees: 175+

Like alarm clocks and the annual trip to the dentist, insurance is one of life’s necessary evils. But the people at Zego believe it shouldn’t be such a hassle to sort - especially if you need it for work purposes.

Whether you need professional, commercial or scooter insurance, they’ll get you a quote in minutes and there are no hidden fees. Their friendly customer service team is available 24/7 and you can find your policy documents all on one handy app.

We can really see this startup going places, particularly thanks to companies like Uber and Deliveroo desperately recruiting drivers for their takeaway operations.

Watch this (parking) space…

8. Hawk:AI

Founded: 2018

Type: Regtech

HQ: Munich, Germany

Employees: 12+

How much money do you think is laundered around the world every year?

  1. $1.5 trillion
  2. $5 billion
  3. $73 million

If you guessed a), well done! Moral of the story: it’s a lot of money. And that’s what German-based startup Hawk:AI is trying to change.

Banks and financial institutions can use their real-time transaction monitoring and investigation solution to help fight money laundering. Tobias Schweiger founded the company after realising what “a critical problem to society” financial crime is.

In a sea of fintechs offering ‘nice to have’ products and services, we love the tangible difference Hawk:AI is making. Let’s hope their much-needed solution can put a stop to any repeats of the infamous FinCEN file leak of 2020.

9. Onfido

Founded: 2012

Type: Regtech

HQ: London, UK

Employees: 400+

How can you verify a real person in the digital world? That’s the question on a lot of companies’ lips at the moment, now that face-to-face interactions are but a distant memory.

Luckily, Onfido has the answer.

Using just their ID and face, businesses can confirm a customer’s identity thanks to Onfido’s document and biometric verification. The use cases for their tech are endless - from driver verification for ride-sharing apps to age verification for alcohol vendors.

We have a sneaky suspicion Onfido is Onto-something here.

10. Trezeo

Founded: 2016

Type: Fintech

HQ: Dublin, Ireland

Employees: 9+

Gig workers are the backbone of our economy, whether you’re hankering for a late night takeaway or your boiler needs urgent repairs. So it’s only fair we have their backs, too.

People in the gig industry often lose out on rights full-time workers take for granted, like maternity and sick pay. Trezeo was set up to provide independent workers with a financial safety net. They offer a totally flexible membership with benefits available to suit everyone’s needs - from income protection to credit-building products and savings pots.

With the rise of the gig economy, Trezeo are doing something great in providing a shred of predictability for people with unpredictable income.

11. Fronted

Founded: 2019

Type: Proptech

HQ: London, UK

Employees: 7+

Deposit. Just the mention of the word is enough to provoke an eye roll and a groan. But, when it comes to renting, London-grown startup Fronted is here to change the game (sorry, buyers, this one’s not for you).

Instead of forking out the whole deposit upfront - which can be eye-wateringly expensive, particularly if you live in a big city - Fronted will cover the cost and let you pay them back in monthly instalments. Plus, they offer same-day approvals and using their service won’t harm your credit score.

So a hefty deposit needn’t be the barrier to your dream home. Ready to say goodbye to that pokey one-bed flat in favour of something a little more palatial?